The Bombay High Court has appointed advocate Zal Adhyarujina as amicus curiae in the matter regarding a stampede that occurred at Elphinstone Road railway station leaving 23 people dead.
On September 29, due to heavy rains around 10 am, many commuters took shelter below a narrow foot overbridge at Elphinstone. An hour later, there was a hue and cry over some portion of the bridge collapsing, which led to a stampede, killing 23 and injuring over 30 persons.
A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice NM Jamdar was hearing a bunch of PILs filed after the incident occurred seeking compensation for the victims’ families, prosecution of concerned officials for negligence, construction of foot overbridges (FOBs) etc, amongst other things.
Chief Justice Chellur said since the matter was sensitive and serious, someone who would pursue the matter seriously and assist the court in every aspect should be appointed as amicus.
CJ Chellur reprimanded the petitioners for opportunism and said that the bridge has been in existence since 1867, and now suddenly after the incident, so-called activists have woken up.
“This is a serious problem but these petitioners before us only want to self-advertise,” the court said referring to poorly-drafted petitions and hence, the decision to appoint an amicus was taken.
The court also directed one of the petitioners, Smita Dhruva, president, Congress (South Mumbai), to file an affidavit detailing the measures taken by her in the past to highlight the problem of congestion at the 150-year-old bridge.
One of the petitioners, Pradeep Bhalekar had alleged in his PIL that the Ministry of Railways had failed to take cognizance of a number of letters written to them seeking reconstruction of the bridge.
The petition will now come up for hearing in four weeks.